Ninth episodes of Game of Thrones seasons always mean that something big is going to happen. Blackwater, The Rains of Castamere, Watchers on the Wall, etc, you can always expect that level of epicness going into the penultimate episode of the season and although we were slightly spoiled given the ending of the previous episode, which easily featured among the best battle sequences that we’ve seen on the show yet, pitting Jon Snow and the Wildlings against the White Walkers in a one-sided conflict that ended with Jon, and the few remaining Wildlings fleeing, with the corpses of those that they left behind being resurrected to join the horde. Heading back to the Wall, Jon and the Wildlings were let through, albeit grudgingly and eventually and is now looked down on by his ‘brothers’ for saving them. He didn’t really get a lot of screen time this week but I wasn’t expecting anywhere near as much material at the Wall after last week’s Hardhome so that didn’t really bother me at all.
The best material this week focused on Daenerys, Tyrion and Jorah when we saw Jorah reunite with both Dany and Tyrion again when the group got attacked in Meereen. It was played out very well indeed (again, the fight sequences where Jorah found himself pitted against other combatants had echoes of Ridley Scott’s Gladiator), and the arrival of Drogon was very cool and handled effectively as the Dragon returned to save Dany from certain death, as let’s face it, she, Jorah, Tyrion and all her allies would not have made it out without Drogon as support. So, hurrah, Drogon! It was also great to see that Dany was warming to Jorah as well (even if he is infected from his events in the previous episodes), and that was an interesting touch especially with the close calls that Jorah had with death. And saving Dany’s life from an assassin also helped as well.
The Sons of the Harpies offered an interesting opponent as things got dramatically out of control in the last fifteen or so minutes of the show. They’re a faceless mob at the moment with no clear leader, making it all the more difficult to cut off the head, if you will. It seems that Dany will always end up with resistance and it’ll be interesting to see how much trouble they continue to be during her reign, having most certainly been thwarted there with that attack. Also, on a side note, nice one, Dany, flying up in the air and leaving Tyrion and the others behind at the mercy of the remaining Sons of the Harpies, because the Unsullied still feel pretty underwhelming as a large scale force, and let’s face it, they were easily defeated here. With Dany leaving and heading off to who knows where on her Dragon, I’m not sure whether that was the best move, but hopefully we’ll get a clear answer as to how the survivors made it out the next episode.
The time that we spent with Stannis was another big factor in this week’s episode. We thought Stannis would be better than what he did in this episode but it looks like he’d rather sacrifice his own daughter (and not just a quick death as well, burning her alive at the stakes), to gain some magical military advantage over his enemy. Just as Stannis had been shaping up to be the good guy with his rescuing of the Night’s Watch and with the other stuff that he’s done this season coming into play as well, he’s dragged back down with the worst. And in case you haven’t learned this lesson already, it’s probably best not to get too attached to anyone in this series, because they will either end up dead in one episode or doing something that’ll make you hate them in the next. Or doing something that makes you hate them and ending up dead.
However, this episode still suffered from plenty of problems. As well as the Unsullied being pretty underwhelming the Dorne stuff ended on a weak note and never really had a major impact, ultimately feeling forgettable in terms of the grander scale of the other events of this episode. Arya’s part in this episode was, although better, not quite as memorable as the stuff with Dany and Stannis, leaving The Dance of Dragons feeling fairly uneven. It’s far from the best ninth episode of a series that we’ve had, but then again, after last week’s episode, it really didn’t matter because that was ninth episode worthy in its own right.
Anyway, I’m still excited for the season finale, so it should be pretty interesting to see what the show gives us on Sunday. Can’t wait.